Sheep breeds & wool production
With a flock of 6.57 millions, main sheep products are mainly
for export to different countries in the world. Wool -with various
levels of processing-, sheep meat, sheepskins, lanolin and breeding
stock have signed the high profile of Uruguayan exports.
types of sheep breeds are bred in farms, and there have been marked
changes in the proportion of breeds with the years. An initial period of
grading up to Merino–type breeds imported from Europe,
Australia, was followed by
a strong predominance of Lincoln and Romney crosses at the beginning of
this century when there was an important demand for mutton meat in
In 1930, after a period of alternated cross–breeding systems using
Lincoln and Merino rams it started a process of grading–up to imported
Merino related breeds from Australia and New Zealand, mainly Corriedale
The present distribution of sheep shows a predominance of breeds
defined as “dual-purpose”
in the sense that generate income from the sale of wool and sheep meat
(fat lambs, surplus offspring and cast for age animals).
Recent results of a national survey showed in 2016 most popular
breeds run by woolgrowers were: Corriedale (42 %), Merino (27 %),
Polwarth (9 %), Merilin (4 %), Romney Marsh (3 %) and Dohne Merino (2
distribution of the wool produced in Uruguay
is a direct consequence of these breeds. The majority of the wool
produced can be defined as mid-micron wool, between 25 and 32 microns,
while the rest corresponds to wools below 24.5 microns. A more
generalized interest in the production of fine and superfine Merino
wools (with less than 19.5 microns) is being observed in the last years.
With that micron profile it is possible to manufacture a wide
range of end-products, mainly for apparel uses but also for interior
an excellent climate and pasture conditions, Uruguay has
environmental conditions totally favourable to high quality sheep
production. Some remarkable characteristics of the “high-quality” wool
produced in Uruguay
are the high values of scouring yield (between 75-81 %) and low
vegetable matter, the low incidence of dust penetration and tip
weathering and good staple length.
industry in Uruguay is mainly oriented to export markets.
processing is well established in Uruguay and
this is the consequence of very strong investments in the combing sector
during the last years.
Wool is mainly exported in the form of tops, but also scoured
and greasy. Other textile products with larger added value are also
exported, such as yarns, fabrics, garments, bedcovers, and rugs. Annual
exports of wool and wool products in the 2017 season reached a total of
41.0 mkg (greasy basis).
As in previous years, the majority of the wool (53.3 %) was
exported as tops.
Scoured wool represented 28.1 % and greasy wool the remnant 18.6
In the last years China has
become our main client, buying 45.1 % of total wool exports in the 2017
season. Other major importers include
Germany (15.8 %), Italy (7,4 % %),
(5.3 %), Bulgary (2.8 %),
Mexico (2.7 %) and
India (2.7 %).